Thursday, October 17, 2013


 These days the political scenario is a bit confusing. Congress with its  Sonia  - Rahul duo looks like the  RSS-having complete  control  with little or no           responsibility ; BJP on the other  hand  seems  like yesterday’s Congress –          personality centric , leader  driven .Confusion is compounded  when both behave in the same manner at  times- for instance treating their elders shabbily-as if it is  the new macho. Neither the head of the govt. nor  the  RSS  show any inclination  to  fight the elections. Even worse is the fact that a supposedly socio-cultural organisation -RSS- controls politics  and an avowedly  political organisation  - Congress - dominates the  social  agenda .A party which used  to boast of  science , Industries  as  temples of India  now  tom toms  only rights and  doles and the ones  premised  on  revivalism  swear  by  development.. . Perhaps  having  sewn their  class – caste  bases they  try and  to  poach and encroach  upon the   remaining  chunks  through  symbolisms  and  tokenisms.
While the vote banks  and  money banks  play the real political match  others  are mere extras in the  political  film -only to have vicarious thrills in reel world.          Whereas  the Upper & upper middle classes & castes  have almost  shut out others  from  the  National politics   the  lower  & Lower middle castes & classes  have            sealed the rest out of  regional  polity. The  middle  classes & castes  which  form   the backbone of  any  healthy  democracy have  to reconcile only  with crumbs in India. 
     Interestingly ,the two main national parties -CONG and BJP do not  differ much on intellectual issues where opposing  thoughts  alone can  lead to growth through a middle path; on the  other hand , in social  affairs where consensus leads to evolution , they are polarized. In other words , in aspects where they have to differ they are conjoint  and in facets where they ought not  to be disagreeable they counter .Thus  there is a curious  scenario after every  election-  intellectual matters  which must  change remain the  same ( or at most reform)  while  continuity  which is the  lifeline of  social affairs gets disrupted ( Instead of  reform there  is change) - either  by  appeasement  or abetment , populism or parochialism.
    It is well known  that secrecy  gives power  and  mystery  provides control but for  the voter  secrecy of  Congress High  Command  and  mystery of RSS makes  elections  either a  gamble or a lottery- or both. Sometimes he may get lucky but  on most  occasions he  ends upon the losing  side. Secrecy is understandable in army , international  matters  and  mystery may be desirable in personal , spiritual affairs  but  for public service and  social work  transparency  and account ability is a must. Nobody  outside the  coterie has a clear idea of  how Congress High Command  operates  or  the manner in  which RSS cabal functions  - that after  nearly a century or more of their  existence .There is no book or a detailed website describing  the  decision making  process of  Congress or the procedure of RSS. It  is not  the details  of  Individual decisions  that are  sought  ( which  all parties  declined  while  blocking the  RTI )  but  the  broad architecture of  the  process - so that the voter can evaluate  their decisions against it. Absence of  such  transparency means  that decisions are  taken  in an ad-hoc manner   and stance  arrived at in a knee  jerk  fashion. Consequently the  nation moves in a stumbling  and  fumbling way. Of  late , there  have been  some  rumblings but they’ve mostly been half  baked , simplistic – AAP (Aam Aadmi  party  ) for Instance is  born out of  a   double negative -  to oppose both the Cong  & BJP. As for their  own pitch   all they offer are some  well meaning platitudes and  simplistic ideas but  no             Philosophy , vision or  Ideology ; mission model or culture. They  are street  smart  but not  smart – even the  choice of  their   party’s  name  is cheeky. In the 65 yrs   since  Independence  we’ve  almost  turned  the  Westminster  model on its  head-mostly by subverting it ; apparently ,in another 35 years we may stumble and     fumble to the  Indian  mo del of  democracy -in the 100th year of  In dependence . That unfortunately is a mediocre approach - it  would’ve  been better  if  we would’ve  designed our own model rather than being dragged by the          circumstances. Of that there  seems  no chance – thus as  of now the Lok  Sabha   is more like a MahaPanchayat than a  parliament.                                                                        This  flip flop shows  paucity of ideas and the voter  keeps getting more of the  same thing .While it is a fact that people get the government  they deserve , it is  also true to large extent that good  leaders can give  people the government  they ought to  get. Whatever the out come in 2013/14–  for middle class  caste voters it  is a virtual  choice ,a  pseudo option- the  country is likely to retain its circular   concept  of   change and  linear model of reform.  Hence whether  it is BJP’s  NAMO ( Narendra Modi) or Congress’  RAGA( Rahul Gandhi) India  will not be  GAGA- at least not in the foreseeable future.                                                ***


The impact of  NOTA ( None of the above) is at best going to be as a starter .By  no  stretch of  imagination is it a right to reject .The  reason being that Indians  are   motivated  in  some  way or the  other - bribes , caste  affiliations  and the like to        come  and  vote. When they want to  reject  the lower  classes vote  banks  oppose   en  masse   while  the middle  classes  stay at  home. Thus  this  is an option primarily   for the middle  classes to  express  their  disgust. Another   Example of  typical S tumbling   fumbling Indian Approach which  may eventually  lead   to conjoint   simultaneous  introduction of  right to reject and right to  recall.


 Various  extra  curricular activities are the order of the  day  on the eve of each        elections. New   channels –regional news channels in particular -spring up out of nowhere – perhaps to dodge paid news , DPR in the name of Journalism or  it could  be an investment of  jittery politicians in the future .
The  officers smell the   wind and  start aligning  accordingly ,new political parties  sp ring  up – as a  safe  passage for black money and  also as self aggrandisement ; most of these  vanish after the elections.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The Indian bureaucracy is supposed to be a neutral ( faceless) one - unlike the committed bureaucracy of Russia and partaker of the spoils system in the US . However , of late , it has started behaving as a committed bureaucracy during its tenure and partaker of the spoils( fruits of commitment ) after superannuation. This is a very unhealthy sign for our democracy and should be castigated. Though there is no law a gainst a bureaucrat contesting elections ( nor can there ever be ) but it can be amply discouraged by the civil society, media and others. It is somewhat of a lesser evil if a bureaucrat contests after resigning from service ( much before securing his pension ) or is invited to the Rajya Sabha -if his work was exceptional -or if he contests as an independent. However, it is abominable if he serves his full term as a bureaucrat and then plunges into elections via a political outfit. That somewhat puts a question mark on his neutrality during his career. Bhagirath Prasad contesting from Morena on Congres ticket is a case in point.


Virtually all the coalitions till date have been formed on a negative basis - on defeating the Congress ( 1977 ), keeping Ram Mandir- Common civil code -Article 370 off( 1998 ) or defeating the communal forces ( 2004 ) and so on.In a way it is like vedas defining god-as neti,neti ( not that, not this .. )... This time out too - the loose coalition by the name of third front is based on keeping the Congress & the BJP out.This approach could be good for religion but is negative for politics So, till the coalitions are formed on a positive agenda - they may be the lesser evil( but are evil all the same).


M.S.Lyngdoh , the former Chief Election Commissioner has come up with two suggestions regarding electoral reforms. Firstly , he suggests that 50% of the seats be decided on the basis of proportional representation and in the remaining seats there should be a refrendum like second round of voting among the two candidates who poll the highest votes in the first round. His plea is that this will ensure a minimum representation for all sections of the society and also preclude the present state wherein many candidates get elected by polling as low as 20 % vo tes in a multipronged contest . My take on it is that the first idea is not tenable since it'll further divide our already fractured society( Mahatma Gandhi had opposed a similar idea of Ambedkar in having seperate constituencies for the scheduled castes on the same basis ; instead we settled for reserved constituencies ) ; as for the second idea- it is an interesting one - in my view , it could be tried out in all those constituencies where the winning candidate polls less than 33% votes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The third front is a somewhat unique crea tion of Indian politics.In the hardcore western world of UK & US, it is a two party system all the way; In Europe, one does see multiparty system in a few coun tries - the closest that comes to the Indian model is that of Italy with its multiparty coalitions ( no wonder it is similar to India in may other w ays ) ; however , what is uni que about the Indian third front is its fluidity, its flexibility , heterogeniety - its ability to reinvent and rise from the ashes like the phoenix every time around the Lok Sabha elections. Another interesting aspect in which it differs from the Italian model is that it is formed not so much on any positive aspects or i d eologic al synchronicity but with the negative common ground of defeating- CONG., BJP or both. All in all, it is a very healthy trend for Indian democracy in the long run - eventhough the westernised Indians bred on the two party concept find it apalling- as it will truly reflect the plurality and diversilty of Indian polity. In a s ense this will be India's gift to the world - a new way of looking at politics. However, that 'll be true only when it bec omes a fairly permanent entity will some sort of positive ideological meeting ground.As for the fro nt taking offence to being labelled the third front - it does make sense . Post emergency the third front has operated in cycles coming to power every third time .in that case it bec omes the first front - a difference from this time is that in all those instances the coalition had taken some sort of concrete shape much before the elections - which is not the case this time out . A t this point in time , it is any body's guess whether the front comprising non-UPA , non- NDA parties will end up being the first, second or the third front .